1 Jul 2022

Los Salmos en rima española, 2

This revised collection comes in a paperback form with a deep burgundy cover. Unlike the first edition, it contains all the melodies as well as the texts which makes for a thicker volume running to just over 300 pages. The layout looks like this:

29 Jun 2022

Los Salmos en rima española, 1

I have just received the new edition of a Spanish-language version of the Genevan Psalter, titled Los Salmos en rima española. This is a collection of metrical psalms set to verse by Jorge Ruiz Ortiz according to the melodies of the Genevan Psalter. This volume replaces an earlier version of the collection published by Faro de Gracia in 2010.

Here is the author's preface translated into English:

It has been thirteen years since the completion of the first version of the Psalter (Los Salmos metrificados en lenga castellana), and eleven since its publication. During this time, in which we have learnt to sing these texts with the music of the Genevan Psalter, we have been able to see in which places they could be improved, and this in two ways: on the one hand, to facilitate singing, and, on the other, above all to make them more faithful to the biblical text.

28 Jun 2022

John Croke's Psalter

The British Library recently posted this item and description on its Facebook page:

In the 16th century, it was fashionable for rich women to wear tiny books hanging from their belts or ‘girdles’. This girdle book is bound in gold and black enamel. When opened it reveals a portrait of Henry VIII and is rumoured to have belonged to his second wife, Anne Boleyn.

The portrait of Henry is charming with smiling cherry lips and sparkling blue eyes. However, there’s no reference to the painting before 1849. Plus it looks nothing like Tudor portraiture – where’s Henry’s glare and pale skin?

An 18th century bookseller, Robert Triphook, mixed up our book with one Anne Boleyn gave to the Wyatt family, which had similar golden covers. The portrait was likely added late to add authority to the claim. So if not Anne Boleyn - who actually owned this book? There is one clue.

Each page contains Psalms translated into English verse. These translations exist in only one other copy – created by John Croke (d.1554), who dedicated the work to his wife. As both manuscripts are written in Croke’s own handwriting, the most likely recipient of both volumes was Prudence Croke.

The book is very likely this one accessible online: Thirteen Psalms and the First Chapter of Ecclesiastes Translated into English Verse by John Croke.

20 Jun 2022

The Lutheran connection

In the 16th century, the Reformation took more than one path in its efforts to reform the western catholic church. Two of these streams are the Lutheran and the continental Reformed, which went their separate ways over the sacraments. At the Marburg Colloquy in 1529, while the Ottoman Turks were besieging Vienna nearly 800 kilometers to the east, Luther defended the real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper against Ulrich Zwingli, who asserted that Christ's body was at the right hand of God following his ascension and thus could not be physically present in the sacrament.

Besides their confessional differences, the Lutheran and Reformed also differed liturgically. Luther was content to translate the existing Roman rite of the Mass into German with modifications intended to purge it of its mediaeval accretions. The Reformed, by contrast, sought to recover a lost liturgical heritage as indicated in the title of the 1542 edition of the Genevan Psalter published in Geneva: La forme des prières et chantz ecclésiastiques: avec la manière d'administrer les sacremens, & consacrer le mariage : selon la coustume de l'Église ancienne. Note especially that last phrase, "according to the custom of the ancient Church." The Reformed sought a more thorough reworking of the liturgy in accordance with God's word and what they knew of early church usages, while Luther's followers were willing to retain what they deemed to be of value in the existing rites.

6 Jun 2022

The Meeter Center's 40th anniversary Psalmfest

This event has now been posted on the Meeter Center's YouTube channel. I was pleased to participate by leading the reading of Psalm 98 at 58:46.

2 Jun 2022

Meletios Kashinda: Psalm 136 (LXX 135)

Here is Meletios Kashinda singing Psalm 135 (136, according to Hebrew numbering). It is rather extraordinary to find an African with an excellent grasp of the Greek language and a mastery of the Byzantine chant tones. And what a powerful voice!

1 Jun 2022

The Psalm 'outside the number'

Holy Transfiguration Monastery

My recent post about the Qumran tradition of Davidic authorship is a reminder that not all of the psalm literature of the ancient Israelites made into the canonical Psalter we know from our bibles. In the Orthodox tradition, we find an extra psalm in some manuscripts of the Greek Septuagint which is described as "outside the number" (εξωθεν του αριθμου) of the 150 Psalms. It is sometimes referred to as Psalm 151 and is labelled thus in the New Oxford Annotated Bible. Here it is in the New Revised Standard Version:

This psalm is ascribed to David as his own composition (though it is outside the number), after he had fought in single combat with Goliath.

1    I was small among my brothers,
and the youngest in my father’s house;
I tended my father’s sheep.
2    My hands made a harp;
my fingers fashioned a lyre.
3    And who will tell my Lord?
The Lord himself; it is he who hears.
4    It was he who sent his messenger
and took me from my father’s sheep,
and anointed me with his anointing oil.
5    My brothers were handsome and tall,
but the Lord was not pleased with them.
6    I went out to meet the Philistine,
and he cursed me by his idols.
7    But I drew his own sword;
I beheaded him, and took away disgrace from the people of Israel.

As far as I know, no one has attempted to set this to metred verse, but it is included in Saint Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter with an appropriate chant tone.

30 May 2022

How many Psalms of David? Qumran's answer

The entire canonical collection making up the biblical Psalter claims in some fashion the authorship of David, the revered king and founder of the Judahite dynasty that would eventually give us Jesus Christ, "great David's greater Son." This suggests, not that David literally composed every Psalm, many of which (for example, 79, 80, and 137) address conditions and events long after his death. It suggests rather that he initiated the project of creating a collection of hymns for God's people which continued for centuries afterwards until the exile and possibly later.

One of the texts uncovered at Qumran (11Q5/11QPsa) asserts that David wrote many more psalms than those that would come to be included in the Bible:

27 May 2022

Sweelinck: The Complete Psalms

The Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) composed arrangements for all 150 of the Genevan Psalm tunes. The Gesualdo Consort has posted many of these on its YouTube channel: Sweelinck: The Complete Psalms. Here is one of those arrangements of Psalm 92 below:

Released last year, the recording is available from iTunes, Amazon.com, and the usual online vendors.

25 May 2022

Salmo 23 Salterio de Ginebra en Español

Salmo 23 Salterio de Ginebra en Español:


Saint Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter

Several years ago I obtained a copy of Saint Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter, containing all 150 Psalms set to chant tones along with additional material. It's a beautifully laid-out volume enabling us to sing the Psalms in a particularly ancient way. I've discovered a YouTube channel that features Sarah James singing all of the Psalms in this collection: Saint Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter. Here is the first Psalm below:

24 May 2022

Let the People Praise: The Enduring Legacy of the Genevan Psalter

Last wednesday afternoon, 18 May, I delivered this lecture at Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, titled: "Let the People Praise: The Enduring Legacy of the Genevan Psalter." This was to mark the 40th anniversary of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies. I was pleased to see so many familiar and unfamiliar faces there. For those unable to attend, here is a recording of the lecture.

20 May 2022

Meeter Center Psalmfest

My lecture at Calvin University took place on wednesday, 18 May. I will post a link to the lecture when the Meeter Center posts it. For now I have posted a portion of the Psalmfest that took place that evening in the chapel of Calvin Theological Seminary. The assembled congregation is singing Genevan Psalm 6 as found in Psalms for All Seasons.

Here is the programme for the Psalmfest:

17 May 2022

Meeter Center reminder

Here is a reminder of tomorrow's lecture sponsored by the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin studies: Meeter Center 40th Anniversary - Lecture: The Genevan Psalms And Their Significance. It will take place at 15:30 UTC-04 (3.30 pm EDT), wednesday, 18 May 2022, at the Meeter Center Lecture Hall, Hekman Library, at Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. From the website: "Join us for this special lecture featuring Dr. David Koyzis (Global Scholars Canada), who has recently completed a new versification of all 150 Genevan Psalms."

13 May 2022

The Sound of the Psalms

First Things' contributing editor Mark Bauerlein interviews James M. Hamilton, Jr., about his book, Psalms Volume 1: Evangelical Biblical Theology Commentary, on this podcast: The Sound of the Psalms. Hamilton takes a canonical approach to the Psalter, arguing that it is no mere collection of praises arranged haphazardly. Rather, the five books of the Psalter trace the history of redemption from the Davidic monarchy through exile and return, culminating in the concluding grand doxologies that represent the consummation of the long story of our salvation in Jesus Christ. It is not incidental that a majority of the Psalms attributed to David occur in the first two books, the second of which closes with "The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended." Standard scholarly interpretation has it that this sentence was an editorial insertion closing an early collection of the psalms to which others were added later. Hamilton argues instead that this signifies that the narrative flow of the Psalter has moved beyond the Davidic episodes to a later stage in the redemptive story. The interview runs to just over half an hour. The book is available from Lexham Academic.

9 May 2022

Genevan Psalms for the Twenty-first Century: The Story of a Project

The May/June issue of The Outlook carries my second article on the Genevan Psalter, following up on my first instalment in the January/February issue. That earlier article introduced the Psalter and told the story of how it came to be. The second article tells the story of my own project to set the Psalms to verse according to their proper Genevan melodies. As far as I can tell, this article is not posted online either, so you will have to locate a print copy or take out a subscription. 

6 May 2022

Psaume 2 du Psautier de Genève

 Several choral arrangements of Genevan Psalm 2:

3 May 2022

Psalm 79 (78 LXX): O God, the nations have come into your heritage

This is obviously not a metrical Psalm, but a Greek Orthodox rendering of Psalm 79, or 78 by Septuagint numbering. In the Orthodox world the singing of this Psalm is associated with lament over the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks on tuesday, 29 May 1453. This particular video includes an English translation of the text.

25 Apr 2022

Let God Arise: Christ is Risen!

In the Orthodox Agape Vespers for Pascha (Easter), the people sing this joyous hymn, whose text can be found here. It borrows from Psalms 68 (LXX 67) and 118 (LXX 117) and ends with the traditional paschal hymn, Christ is Risen. The recording is from St. Symeon Orthodox Church, Birmingham, Alabama, USA, in 2018.

22 Apr 2022

David's Psalter: Psalm 23

Once again, metrical psalmody meets the Polish Renaissance in this wonderful performance of Mikołaj Gomółka and Jan Kochanowski's rendition of Psalm 23. Katarzyna Wiwer sings soprano, accompanied on the lute by Henryk Kasperczak.